Author Archives: Phil Elsasser

About Phil Elsasser

Phil is a recent graduate from Western Washington University and a Bellingham resident. He is a category 1 road cyclist who is currently riding for Hagens Berman Elite Cycling Team based out of Seattle and hopes to join the pro ranks within the next couple of years. He has traveled to many of the biggest races across the US and is the current DII Collegiate National Criterium Champion. For the last four years he raced for the WWU Cycling team and was the president of the team in 2008. He has developed many new riders on that team and really enjoys getting people involved in the sport at any level. Mainly, just seeing people going faster than they could before is what he really enjoys. He currently works at Fairhaven Fitness as a personal trainer when he isn’t racing or training. In addition to his personal training certification through IFA he is also a Level 3 certified cycling coach through USA Cycling. To inquire about services please email

Post Race Recovery

Recently with the start of the racing season I have had a lot of clients looking for some help with post race recovery and trying to maximize the short time between Saturday and Sunday when racing both days of a weekend, or maybe even a double day.  The closer together workouts or races come after one another the more important maximizing your recovery becomes.  The same is true with weekday workouts where often two hard workouts are paired back to back.

If you look at the athletes that are at the very top of the sport, they have several gifts which is why they are the best of the best.  These things include, amazing work ethic, genetics, opportunity, and drive to be the best at what they do.  One thing that many of them also have is the ability to recover faster than most.  Not only does this allow them to race hard day after day (as in the grand tours) but also allows them to stack more quality training into the same time frame (back to back to back hard days) as someone who doesn’t have that same ability.  There are many factors that go into ones ability to recover, some are controllable and some not.  The aim of this post is simply to try to take a look at your current recovery habits and possibly make some adjustments to that in hopes of better recovery.  I will say what works very well for some people may not work great for others, but this is what I have found to work well and have also had good feedback from others.

By far the most important aspect of recovery is glycogen replenishment.  Much has been written in regards to this, but the main idea is that there is a window of time post workout that the body is able to uptake glycogen into the muscles at a quicker rate.  From what I have read there is some debate as to how long this window lasts but I would shoot for within 20 minutes of ending your workout making sure you are taking on higher glycemic sources of carbohydrates.  Having a post workout “recovery bottle” made in advanced sometimes makes this a whole lot easier.  There are many companies that make products aimed at this.  I personally have had good success with Recoverite from Hammer Nutrition.  Although, If I am at home I still will go after whole food rather than powders or mixes, but on the road they are sometimes the easiest option.  Additionally, getting a real whole food meal quickly afterwards is also important.  Also addressing hydrating throughout the rest of the day to replenish lost fluids cannot be overlooked.

The other concerns that need to be addressed as quickly as possible post race/workout are immediately getting out of your cycling kit, both for hygienic reasons, and also for temperature control.  If it is cold, getting out of your sweaty clothes and putting warm dry clothes on to try and get your core temperature back up is extremely important.  I cannot tell you how many athletes I know get sick over the first couple of rainy early season races.  It sometimes happens even if you take all the precautions but minimizing your exposure is key.  Along those same lines, hand washing, and realizing that your immune system is compromised already after a hard workout is important.

On the other side of the coin if it is exceedingly warm, cooling down after  a workout becomes paramount to limiting stress and starting the recovery process.  A cold shower, an ice bath, or just a few water bottles over the head can really help.  Again getting out of your sweaty close is important for hygiene, even thought you won’t be cold.

The rest of these suggestions are smaller things that can add up to feeling much better the next day:

Compression Socks/Tights – Relatively inexpensive (especially socks) and great for recovery and travel, purchasing a pair of the socks or tights is definitely worth the investment.

The Stick / Foam Rollers / Trigger Point – All products that are meant to be self massage tools that can aid in myofascial  release and increased blood flow leading to quicker recovery.  I think the stick is the most inexpensive and transportable option.

Easy Spinning later in the day – While sometimes it is hard to find the time, jumping on the rollers or just going for a super mellow 20 minute ride can really help loosen things up.

Rest / Napping / Legs Up – The more time you can spend off your feet the better.  So try and maximize the time you are laying around.  Keeping the legs elevated will also help to increase blood flow again speeding the recovery process.  If you are able to take a nap, do so (especially on double days).

Stretching – There is alot of research on both the pros and cons of stretching.  I am not going to dive into it here, but if you are a stretched do so, if not well it may or may not be for you.  For me it helps, both with feeling looser and with being able to ride a more aggressive position on the bike.

Again, everyone is different, and these are just a few items that have worked for me and others I know.  Feel free to post your own ideas in the comments section if you have something that I didn’t mention!

Thanks for reading!




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What Goes Into Your Race Bag?

What goes in the race bag? By: Brian Ecker

Living and racing bikes in the Northwest means you really need to be prepared for all kinds of conditions. Often times getting everything ready for a race is one big rush and it can be so very frustrating to show up at a race to only find you have forgotten some critical element. It can be just as frustrating trying to remember the long list of things you need for the next day’s race. We all have the items and/or brands we prefer but it won’t do you much good if the thing you need is sitting in the closet at home!

Instead of re-inventing the wheel every time I find myself using the “race bag” method.  Basically, this all starts with a good quality race duffel bag that can hold a lot of stuff, has many great pockets and compartments, and is durable enough (zippers) for a chronic over stuffer like myself. Once the race season gets under way I keep it stocked and then the night before the race I do a quick look through just to make sure I have replenished supplies and have thrown in the stuff that I may have used during the training week. I also try hard to always put the same things in each pocket.  This saves countless time and energy later when, true to my forgetful self, find myself scrounging through my race bag minutes before the race start.

For the past few years I have been using a well-designed bag made by Hincapie. Unfortunately it is turning out to be not that durable so you may want to shop around. The nice part about a bag that is cycling specific is that it usually has all those great cubby holes for your shoes, glasses, gels/bars, etc.  It’s designed with a cyclist and their gear in mind.

So what should you pack?  I like to pack for everything, ie it might be 40F and pouring rain or sunny and 70F.  This of course means I pack a lot of stuff but I’d rather do that then to be without.

Let’s start with the base layers. I pack 4 (FOUR).

  • Light weight muscle shirt
  • Craft middleweight muscle shirt
  • Craft middleweight crew
  • The “oven” – Craft middleweight crew with a thin wind stopper front.  This is a great piece of cold weather gear as it keeps your core nice and toasty and it’s super thin so not at all bulky

What goes on the arms and legs?

  • Arm warmers
  • Knee warmers
  • Full length leg warmers

How about the hands:

  • Short finger gloves
  • Thin full finger gloves (something like a summer weight MTB type)
  • Lightweight flees type full finger gloves
  • Mid to heavy weight full finger gloves (for when it’s really nasty out)

On to the feet:

  • Lightweight race crew sock
  • Middle weight wool crew sock
  • Long (mid-calf) mid/heavy wool sock
  • Solid pair of booties
  • Shoes!!

The basics:

  • Shorts (at least 1 pair)
  • Long sleeve jersey
  • Short sleeve jersey

On the head:

  • Light weight billed cycling cap
  • Thermal hat
  • Helmet!


  • Wind vest
  • Rain coat
  • Clear rain slicker


  • Gels
  • Bars
  • Salt tablets )notice the recycled Nuun container)
  • (I usually pack my bottles and drink mix separately as I don’t want any leakage!!)

Cosmetic bag:

  • Chamois cream
  • Body glide
  • Warm Fx
  • Lip balm
  • Sunblock
  • Vaseline (on warmer but super wet races a good thick layer on the legs works much better than leg/knee warmers)
  • Small towel (for cleaning)

What else?

  • Race numbers
  • Race license
  • Cash
  • HR strap/cycling computer
  • Glasses: clear and tinted
  • Safety pins

How’s it all going to fit?

Piece of cake with the right bag!!

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Answering The Age Old Question: How long should my “long” rides be?

As coaches we often get asked some seemingly simple questions from many people and often have a hard time giving a straight answer.  Most people expect a short simple answer.  Something along the lines of “oh, they should be the same length as your longest event”.  That certainly is a nice cut and dry answer that fits into many peoples “ideas” of training.  It was an idea that was even promoted by author Joe Friel who wrote the Cyclist Training Bible, which many have read.  Luckily, for him and for us, things are getting a bit more scientific and people are actually looking at real data to reinforce their training protocols and ideas.  So much so, that even Joe Friel himself has completely revised his idea in regards to this question.

Recently, in Cycling Performance Conditioning, a journal published by USAC for USAC coaches, Joe Friel explain his turn from this “old school” concept and looks at training in a bit more scientific and modern way.

PC: How does TSS periodization differ from the work on periodization you have done in the past?

JF: The only thing that differs is that it’s more precise. In the Training Bible we might ask the question: if I’m training for a three hour race, how long should the longest ride be in the base period? We could all assume that the answer is at least three hours. However, it may be four hours, five hours or even six hours on the upper end. Using the TSS periodization answers that question. We know the race is three hours and the TSS is going to be 280 points. Based on this we can see that the duration to achieve this score in the base period would be something in the four hour range and provide the same stress that a three hour race would produce as the season progresses. Over the course of the year, workouts become more racelike. In my definition of periodization the key is to get more race like as we go along and the shift is to higher intensity so that one workout per week will be at TSS in the build period. It takes out the guess work of how long the workout should be and at what intensity in order to give an athlete the proper dosage of training.

So what is TSS exactly? The short answer is that TSS (Training Stress Score) is a measure based upon the atheletes threshold power of the amount of stress a workout is putting on the atheletes system.  While having a power meter would seem essential to utilizing this metric it is a principle that can also be applied without one as long as we have a good idea of an atheletes zones.  So even if you don’t train with power, you can still apply this  concept to your training.

Lets look at a bit of data from some of my own personal workouts and races to give us an idea of what I am talking about. First lets take a look at some data from a race.  While I hardly ever race with a power meter, I did race a few early season races with one just for the sake of data collection.

Sequim Road Race – Duration 2:47
Work 2663 KJ
TSS – 227.8
Norm Power – 317W

So using the old Joe Friel answer, if this was my longest event,  my longer rides should be in the three hour range.  So during the base phase of training, my endurance rides could look something like this one.

Duration 3:37
Work 2579 KJ
TSS 119
Norm Power 216W

While this was a very “easy” endurance paced ride, you can see that my TSS is very short of the desired training stimulus appropriate to match the demands of the road race from above.  Here is another ride that may be better off season preparation for the road race.

Duration 5:47
Work 4181 KJ
TSS 221.6
Norm Power 232W

While the average power for this ride is a bit higher, the main thing that allows the TSS to more closely match is the duration.  So am I saying that if you want to race the local Cat 1-2 road race you need to put in a 5+ hour ride every weekend?  No, absolutely not.  However, I am saying it is time to start taking a look at your training and your goals and learn ways to make sure you are getting the training stimulus you need to be competitive.  If you aren’t sure what that is going to take, start talking to us.  That is what we are here for!

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HCCS is now a sponsor of the Fanatik Cycling Team

We are proud to announce that in the 2011 season we will be working with several athletes from the Fanatik Bike Co Racing Team, a USAC Cycling Team based of Bellingham, WA operated under Shuskan Velo Club.    We look forward to helping their riders progress as the team grows in both depth and caliber.

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HCC Athlete Report: Connie Clement

Everyone remember Connie’s first appearance on our blog here or her update here.  Well she has sent us some more feedback after her successful race at the Danskin Triathlon.  This is what she had to say about her race and her training leading up to the event.


The Danskin went great!  I felt completely strong and prepared.  I wasn’t particularly nervous at the start, which surprised me. I did get a little unnerved at the beginning of the swim, but that was just lack of experience. The bike leg was fantastic. I felt strong and had fun. I’m pleased with my 19 mph average.  The run went well. My goal was to keep my feet moving and at least jog, if not run.  The one big hill was slow and steady.  After recovering at the top, I realized I had about a quarter mile left to go, so I gave it everything I had left.

My goal going into this thing was to finish in the top half.  I ended up in the top 11%. I was ecstatic.  Brian’s training paid off. I feel completely satisfied.

Looking back at the training, it did take my free time. There are projects around the house that didn’t get done as a result of my training, but I didn’t have to sacrifice family time.  In fact, the support I felt from my family the day of the race was fantastic. In hindsight, I’m very glad I did the Danskin and very glad Brian prepared me so well. It was a good goal. I’m grateful to have completed the race so confidently. As for the projects that didn’t get done, they’ll be there next summer.


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Feedback from our 8 and 8 program!

So early this year we released a new program aimed at recreational level atheletes who were looking for some guidance in achieving an event based goal.  To get the word out there we offered up one of these packages to an auction fundraiser for a local school district.

The winner of the package, Greg Rehm, was looking to complete the infamous Seattle to Portland (STP) in one day.  We got him on a program and away he went.  After a very strong performance over the 205 mile ride, Greg let us know about his thoughts on his performance and our coaching. Here are some excerpts from his email.

The event went great!  I felt stronger at mile 200 than I felt at mile 100 last year.  Had a good pace group and we were able to hold a smooth line all day.  Averaged just shy of 18mph over the whole 205 which I feel good about. Thanks for working with me and supporting the Columbia Parents Assoc.  I  really enjoyed having a plan and am having a bit of withdrawal now that it’s over.  I still have two more riding goals for the year and am hoping to carry this fitness level into them.

While the season is winding down it isn’t too early to start thinking about next year!  Feel free to email us to see how the coaches at HCCS can meet your needs!

The event went great!  I felt stronger at mile 200 than I felt at mile 100

last year.  Had a good pace group and we were able to hold a smooth line


day.  Averaged just shy of 18mph over the whole 205 which I feel good


Thanks for working with me and supporting the Columbia Parents Assoc.  I

really enjoyed having a plan and am having a bit of withdrawal now that


over.  I still have two more riding goals for the year and am hoping to

carry this fitness level into them.

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Filed under Phil Elsasser, Testimonials

Touf of Utah: TT and Crit

The TT stage was a bit off the grid so to speak and on the drive out there everyone in the team van was certainly a bit curious as to why the race organizer had us driving a ways out of SLC for a simple 9 mile TT.  Well that question was quickly answered when we pulled into the Larry H Miller motor sports park.  It proved to be an amazing venue.  Not only could spectators watch the entire race from the viewing area above, each team was giving a pit bay as a warm up area.  Pretty cool!  The course itself was pretty straightforward with most of it being on wide open racing track with large smooth turns allowing for ridiculously fast times.  Taylor Phinney pulled it off again averaging well over 33 mph to take the win.  Insane.

Oddly enough, that same adjective describes the course the race organizers had chosen for the “crit”.  The reason for the quotes? well lets say this “crit” had just shy of 5,000 feet of climbing and was held at 7,000 feet of altitude in Park City.  There was alot of grumbling about the course, and the time cut, which apparently was adjusted at the request of BMC’s team management.  Whatever the case maybe, I didn’t make it through it, and nor did 40 other guys.  It was an unfortunate end to my experience at the Tour of Utah and I would of really like to be one of maybe only 10 amateurs that actually finished the race.  I am sitting here in SeaTac airport about to board a plane to head to Philadelphia for Univest Grand Prix.  This will be my last race of the season, a fact that I am very ambivalent about.  Thanks for reading!


Filed under Phil Elsasser, Race Reports